Even those individuals who are not art enthusiasts will love Rania Matar’s Girls in Between: Portraits of Identity exhibition hosted by the non profit arts organization, the Photographic Resource Center (PRC) located right on BU’s West Campus. Also featured in the Improper Bostoninan, The Phoenix and The Boston Globe, the photographs in this show depict girls from the United States and the Middle East, two places with which the artist is very familiar. She connects the girls regardless of their culture, upbringing, social class, religion, or interests. The PRC also includes never-before-seen work from Matar’s new project, L’Enfant-Femme.
In the artist’s personal statement, Matar explains, “The room was a metaphor, an extension of the girl, but also the girl seemed to be part of the room, to fit in, just like everything else in the material and emotional space” (PRC Wall plaque). There is a slightly voyeuristic quality to the work; the viewers are looking into girls’ most precious and sacred territories. The girls, while transitioning to women, are in an extremely vulnerable place. They are exposing themselves to the audience, thereby immediately establishing a relationship with the viewers. They are extremely easy to relate to; nearly everyone can form a connection with this important life stage depicted in the photographs.
There is no hidden meaning to the work: it is not a political statement, some kind of propaganda, an expose, or a reflective narration of some third world disaster. The works exist as is, which seems to be more rare in the art world today. They exist in time and do not challenge you to ponder the meaning; instead they speak to you. They are refreshingly uncomplicated and easy to understand. Matar’s inimitable perspective challenges the viewers in a different way; she successfully provokes emotions in the viewers that remind them of significant phases in their past.
The exhibit is paired with one of Nancy Grace Horton’s, Being 13. In this exhibition, located in the Members’ Gallery at the rear of the PRC’s main gallery space, Horton traces her 13 year-old stepdaughter’s transition from a young girl into a young woman. The exhibit focuses on the development of one girl, allowing viewers to relate to her specifically, rather than multiple individuals as Matar does. The works have a spontaneous air to them, trying to capture a stage in time of the everyday life of someone very close to them.
The exhibition statement explains, “Zoe expresses a variety of states peculiar to girls in their early teens: defiance, playfulness, embarrassment, youthfulness, boredom, and independence.” Horton tries to capture all of these stages in the work—thereby creating a person within the frames that viewers get to know. Almost intruding into her personal life, we see images at her home, during her spirit week, in the shower, reading to her grandparents, and in a motel among others. These, very personal images, are open to the public and thereby demonstrate the relationship between the mother and stepdaughter. The exhibit is not only pinpointing the idea of growth and maturity, but also highlighting the intense and loving connections that can form between mother-daughter figures.
About the Artists
The Photographic Resource Center provides the viewers with a biography of the artists.
“Rania Matar was born and raised in Lebanon and moved to the U.S. in 1984. Originally trained as an architect at the American University of Beirut and Cornell University, she studied photography at the New England School of Photography and the Maine Photographic Workshops in Mexico. She teaches photography at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and in refugee camps in Lebanon.
Matar has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Legacy Award at the Griffin Museum of Photography, 2007 and 2011 Massachusetts Cultural Council artist fellowship, first place at the New England Photographer Biennial, Women in Photography International, and the Prix de la Photographie Paris. She has accumulated honorable mentions at the 2010 UNICEF Picture of the Year Award, the 2010 Lens Culture Exposure International, the Silver Eye Center for Photography Fellowship, CENTER and the Photo Review. She was selected at one of the Top 100 Distinguished Women Photographers by Women in Photography, and was finalist for the distinguished Foster Award at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Among other exhibitions, Matar was also featured in the EXPOSURE 2011, the 16th annual juried exhibition at the PRC. Her images are in the permanent collections of several museums worldwide”.
Nancy Grace Horton
“Nancy Grace Horton holds an MFA in Visual Arts from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and has been working as a freelance photographer and educator for over 20 years. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards, most recently an Artists Entrepreneurial Grant from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, where she is also a Rostered Artist.
She lives between Maine and New Hampshire and takes yearly visits to rural Mexico where she creates photo-based cultural exchange projects for kids. As the featured artist for the Portsmouth, New Hampshire Library Artist Curated Book Display, she exhibited a hand made book entitled Mad Women, part of her newest series of work. She is known locally for her popular photo book Portsmouth.
In 2012 her photographs were featured in PRC in NYC at the New York Photo Festival and will also be included in the Griffin Museum of Photography’s 18th Juried Exhibition.”
If you enjoy the exhibit, check out Matar’s book, A Girl in Her Room, available for purchase at the PRC or online through the artist’s website. More information is also available at the PRC’s website, www.prcboston.org.
The Photographic Resource Centers is open:
Tuesday- Friday from 10-5 and Saturday 12-4
Taking the T?
Take the Green “B” Line, to the Boston University West Campus Stop. The PRC is located across the street, right next to Darque Tan and Sicilia’s Pizza. For those of you familiar with BU’s campus, it’s right across from the CFA building and next to BU’s 808 Gallery.
–Meredith Hoobler, Arts and Entertainment Blogger